by Cecilia Kennedy.
CW: blood, death
What follows us, just beyond our reach? Stromberg’s piece “Dysregulation” explores this idea brilliantly. If “hope is the thing with feathers,” Stromberg’s winged creature is “the malevolent thing like a bird that hovers.” This dark presence lurks above Bellatrix’s shoulder, even as her name evokes the power of a massively bright star or a “female warrior.”
The work builds suspense with memorable, haunting images and predictions: “When the time comes, it will swing its head down savagely, as if on a hinge.” The agonizing wait, which Bellatrix must endure is vivid: “Something like saliva drips from its beak onto her head.” All signs point downward, plunging into terror and inevitability.
The transition from this fear to weariness is palpable, culminating in a fateful subway trip, where the other passengers’ reactions are both expected—and not expected. Who or what is to blame for what has happened? The opening stanza, perhaps, holds the answer—preparing us for the possibility that blame can be misplaced, but the effects are visible.